The world is full of places that curious adventurers are free to explore but that doesn’t include the handful of places that will forever remain a secret. From islands in Australia to our very own United States, there are some locations that have been shrouded in mystery for many years. Places like the Vatican’s Secret Archives and North Sentinel Island are known to exist, but we will never truly know what they’re hiding since no human is allowed to set foot on the premises. A mythical Russian subway line and a valuable location in America– these are the most secretive places you’ll never be able to visit.
One island on this list will forever be a mystery until its natives open up to outsiders…
North Brother Island Is Off-Limits
The state of New York prohibits anyone from visiting North Brother Island. What may or may not be on that island remains a secret but what we do know is the fact that it used to be the home of Riverside Hospital. The hospital was built to house highly contagious patients and later it was used to care for military veterans, and heroin addicts after that. But since then, the hospital has fallen apart.
Because of North Brother Island’s history, New York doesn’t want people setting foot on it but there might be a more sinister reason why.
The Vatican’s Secret Library Has A Vast Amount Of Knowledge
The Vatican’s Secret Archives may hold some of the best-kept secrets in the world – at least as it pertains to the Catholic Church. With over 50 miles of shelving that hold 35,000 volumes of catalog, the Secret Archives contain information that has defined moments in history, from a letter written by Mary, Queen of Scots, to a bull that excommunicated Martin Luther from the church.
Twelve centuries worth of documents is contained in this library that the public is prohibited from seeing. Even scholars have to wait 75 years before they can read one of the archive’s indexes.
The Woomera Test Range Might Be Hiding Something
The Woomera Test Range is the largest land-based weapons testing facility on the planet. The site is run by the Royal Australian Air Force and spans an area of 127,000 square kilometers – larger than the country of Portugal! The entire area, including the airspace above it, is called the Woomera Prohibited Area and is strictly off-limits to civilians.
This may be a safety precaution, which makes sense, but the fact that it’s also a no-fly over zone has led many to believe that there might be more going down in that site than weapons testing.
Fort Knox Supposedly Holds The Most Valuable Items In The U.S.
Fort Knox, Kentucky is home to the United States Bullion Depository, which is known for holding the country’s official gold reserves and other precious items that belong to the U.S. government. Because of the unfathomable treasures that lie inside, Fort Knox is heavily guarded and few people are ever allowed inside. This makes it one of the most secretive and secure places in the U.S.
What we do know is that Fort Knox supposedly holds 2.3% of all the gold ever refined throughout human history – a value of around $6.22 billion. This place is so secure that President Franklin Roosevelt is the only president who’s ever been allowed inside.
Speaking of treasures, there might be some hidden underground in China, though we’d never know since there’s a lot standing in the way of it all…
Robins Island Is A Nature Preserve No One Can Visit
In the middle of the Peconic Bay of Suffolk County, New York lies a 435-acre piece of undeveloped land called Robins Island that is not accessible to the public. Robins Island is privately owned by Wall Street financier Louis Bacon, who purchased the island in 1993 for $11 million.
Though Bacon occasionally hosts traditional English pheasant hunts for his wealthy guests, he has primarily invested his money into restoring the island to its natural state. He’s imported full-grown oak trees to replace ones harvested for lumber in the past, replaced non-native grasses, and reduced an overgrown deer population.
Diego Garcia Is An Off-Limits Military Base
Diego Garcia is a coral atoll off the southern coast of India whose status has remained a topic of controversy. In the late ’60s, the U.K. and the U.S. forcibly removed the island’s native population to establish an American military base. Now Diego Garcia is the only inhabited island in British Indian Ocean Territory but is off-limits to the public.
The only people there are military personnel and independent contractors. Diego Garcia is considered one of the most critical U.S. bomber bases in the Asia Pacific region and there has been plenty of speculation about what actually goes down there.
Bohemian Grove Is The Most Exclusive Summer Camp
Bohemian Grove is an exclusive campground hidden within the Redwood Forests of Northern California. It belongs to the Bohemian Club, a private gentleman’s club based out of San Francisco. Every summer, the club hosts an encampment at Bohemian Grove and welcomes some of the most prominent men in the world.
Nobody knows what really happens at these events and it is so exclusive you have to be invited to gain entry. It has been said that every Republican president since Coolidge was a member, leading conspiracy theorists to believe it’s a right-wing powwow dedicated to discussing the New World Order.
What Are They Really Guarding?
Most people know about the terracotta warriors who guard the tomb of China’s First Qin Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. These sculptures were uncovered in 1974 when some unsuspecting Chinese citizens were digging a well. Around 7,000 statues of warriors were found in pits guarding the emperor’s tomb, with each soldier’s likeness and garb unique from the others.
While we know what these soldiers are protecting, it’s suspected that they could be guarding something far more valuable than a tomb. It is said that Qin Shi Huang was laid to rest with a vast amount of treasures, though we can never know for sure since his tomb is strictly off limits.
Coming up, one town in Russia was completely shut down but may be the perfect spot to take cover in the event of a nuclear war…
Metro-2 Is So Secret It’s Considered An Urban Legend
There may or may not be a secret underground railway line underneath the streets of Moscow. Informally known as Metro-2, this rail line is reportedly longer than the public Metro that already exists.
Metro-2 was supposedly built during the era of Joseph Stalin and was meant to connect all major government locations including the Kremlin, the Federal Security Service headquarters, the airport, and even an underground town at Ramenki. Rumors of this underground tunnel started in 1992 when a Russian author wrote a novel about an underground bunker and claimed the story’s setting was real.
We Will Never Truly Know About Area 51
Despite the fact that most people know about Area 51’s supposed existence, it still remains one of the most secretive places in the world. In reality, Area 51 is a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base. It’s part of the Nevada Test and Training Range, so it’s assumed that the land is used to develop and test experimental aircraft and weapons systems.
Whatever goes on at Area 51 remains top secret, which is why it is a focal point of many conspiracy theories, especially those that have to do with extraterrestrial activity.
North Sentinel Island Will Always Be A Mystery
North Sentinel Island is one secret place you definitely don’t want to visit if you want to keep your life. For over 60,000 years, many travelers and anthropologists have tried to explore this island but it was the native Sentinelese people that wouldn’t let them do so.
Despite many efforts to try to make peace with the Sentinelese, we still don’t know what language they speak and what their world view is. Multiple attempts to get to know these people have almost always ended in death. As a result, the world knows pretty much nothing about the Sentinelese or the island itself.
No One Really Knows What Mezhgorye Is Hiding
Mezhgorye used to be a town in Russia’s Republic of Bashkortostan until it was closed down. The town was founded in 1979 but wasn’t granted official town status until 1995. Mezhgorye had plenty of construction projects going on in its early years until the Cold War caused fear of a nuclear attack.
It is said that there are stores of hidden treasures, food, as well as a nuclear bunker were built into the sides of Mount Yamantau, as Mezhgorye sits at the southern Ural Mountains. There is supposedly an air filtration system in the bunkers that can clear out nuclear waste in the event of a nuclear war.
Only The Japanese Imperial Family Knows What’s Inside
The Ise Shrine in the Mia Prefecture of Japan is one of the most sacred buildings in Japanese culture and the holiest site in Shinto religion. Guests are welcome to explore the shrine’s surrounding forest but are restricted from seeing beyond the tall wooden fences that surround the shrine itself.
No one really knows what it looks like inside, since entry is exclusive to family members of the Imperial House of Japan, who is in charge of watching over it. Built to worship the sun goddess Amaterasu, the inside of the shrine is rebuilt every 20 years in honor of the Shinto aspect of rebirth.
It’s Illegal To Travel To Heard Island
Heard Island remains one of the most remote places on Earth and the Australian government intends to keep it that way. Located in the middle of the ocean between Australia and Antarctica, the island has hardly been touched by humankind.
Treacherous weather and sea conditions have limited research visits to the island, which is home to Australia’s largest mountain, two active volcanoes, and the country’s only glaciers. Heard Island is home to an abundance of terrestrial and marine life as a result of limited modification by the human race. One may never know what truly lies within the island since Australia has made it illegal to travel there.
No One Is Allowed On Poveglia Since It’s Haunted
There’s a reason the Italian government prohibits travel to Poveglia, a small island located between Venice and Lido. As early as 1776, victims of the bubonic plague were shipped there en masse to live out the rest of their lives and were buried in a mass grave.
In the 1920s, a mental hospital was put up on the island, where a deranged doctor would conduct harmful experiments on patients. Needless to say, many people believe that the island is haunted with ghosts. Although the public isn’t allowed to travel there, some people have found ways to bribe willing boat operators to float them over there.
Only Men Know The Secrets Of White’s Gentlemen’s Club
The White’s Gentlemen’s Club is one of the most secretive places around. Based in London, White’s is regarded as one of the most exclusive private clubs in the world and only men are allowed inside. It was originally founded in 1693 as a hot chocolate emporium by an Italian immigrant.
It wasn’t long before the hot chocolate shop because a notorious gambling house and transitioned into an exclusive club. Its elite members include the likes of Prince Charles, his son Prince William, and former British Prime Minister David Cameron who resigned over the club’s refusal to admit women.
One cave in France may hold the key to our earliest ancestors but it’s too bad that no one is allowed inside…
One Of The World’s Newest Islands Is Off Limits
Earth may be billions of years old but there are places on this planet that haven’t even been formed until modern times. In 1963, an underwater volcanic eruption formed the island of Surtsey, of the southern coast of Iceland.
While it’s amazing to have a relatively fresh piece of land spring up in the ocean, no one is allowed to set foot on it aside from a few scientists. Even then, the select number of researchers are checked thoroughly to make sure they don’t bring foreign bodies on the island, whose ecosystem is still developing.
This Norwegian Vault Carries The Seed To Every Plant
There’s a heavily guarded vault on a Norwegian mountainside that no one is allowed to enter. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built to preserve a vast variety of plant seeds from all over the world. The vault was designed to carry 4.5 million varieties of crops, with each crop containing an average of 500 seeds.
This Norwegian mountainside is the only location cold enough to preserve the seeds at just the right temperature but many conspiracy theorists allege that there’s a lot more behind the vault door. The seeds would certainly help in the even of some sort of disaster so it’s likely there might be other supplies for that kind of emergency as well.
The Coca-Cola Vault Has A Highly-Guarded Secret
One vault in Atlanta, Georgia contains a secret so confidential that it’s probably guarded better than your own savings account at your bank. The Coca-Cola secret formula is one heavily-guarded secret despite the fact that visitors from all over the world come into close contact with it every day.
Visitors can visit the vault and see the museum that surrounds it, but what is inside remains the soda company’s best secret. Many have tried to emulate Coca-Cola’s recipe and no one has succeeded thanks to their solid secret-keeping skills.
The Lascaux Cave Has Prehistoric Secrets
There’s a place where you can connect with the world’s most prehistoric peoples in Southwestern France, but it’s too bad that people are banned from visiting. The Lascaux cave is home to over 600 wall paintings and nearly 1,500 etchings that date back 20,000 years.
These paintings offer an idea about what life was like for Europe’s earliest people and after WWII, people were actually allowed inside the cave to see the works of art. Unfortunately, they also introduced foreign flora which led to a fungus that grew and destroyed some of it. The cave has since been closed to the public.
Pluto’s Deadly Gate To The Underworld
In 1965, archaeologists discovered a Roman religious site in Hierapolis, Turkey. The temple was dedicated to the Roman Lord of the Underworld, Pluto. Ancient priests would sacrifice birds and bulls just by throwing them into the cave. Why? Because it’s toxic.
Scientists have measured a dangerous level of CO2 from the cave. At night, the gasses grow heavier. By dawn, CO2 levels reach 35%, enough to kill both people and animals in minutes. Even if you wanted to visit the inside of the cave, you wouldn’t survive to tell the tale.
Don’t Step On This Island Full Of Venomous Snakes
Do you fear snakes? If so, you’ll want to stay far away from Ilha Da Queimada Grande, also known as Snake Island. Located off the coast of Brazil, this island shelters a species of endangered venomous snakes called golden lancehead pit vipers. They eat the birds that frequent Ilha Da Queimada Grande.
Scientists believe that the snakes became trapped on the island due to rising tides. Because of the dangers of the island, no one is allowed to visit. Only the Brazilian Navy and the Chico Medes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation ever step foot on this island.
Who Knows What’s On Hawaii’s Forbidden Island?
In 1864, Elizabeth Sinclair bought the Niihau Island off the coast of Hawaii. Since then, no one is allowed in or out, except for occasional guests and the island’s natives (the Niihauans). Neither alcohol nor guns are allowed on the island.
Niihau has no roads, no cars, and no internet. Although Kin Kamehameha V sold his island to the Sinclairs, the family promised to preserve the Niihauans’ way of life. Today, Niihau remains a living fossil with only 70 estimated residents. The residents are fiercely protective of their land and will report anyone who attempts to trespass.
Only One Person Has Seen The Church Of Our Lady Mary of Zion
The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion is an Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Axum, Ethiopia. Although some scholars debate this, the church allegedly contains the original Ark of the Covenant. If you don’t know, the Ark of the Covenant is a chest that holds the tablets of the Ten Commandments.
In accordance to Biblical law, only one guardian monk may visit this church. After one monk dies, he appoints another guardian to work with the church for life. The Ark is reported to have magical powers, which only adds to the mystery. Although the church looks beautiful, no one else can set foot inside of it.
The Secretive, Scandalous Room 39 In North Korea
Although few people have access to North Korea, even fewer residents can enter the infamous Room 39. Officially called the Central Committee Bureau 39, this party organizes the finances and foreign currency of the Kim family and top officials.
Over the years, Room 39 has been accused of eliciting drug-smuggling, scamming, and counterfeiting. The actual party is said to work in the Worker’s Party building in Pyongyang, specifically Office 35 and Office 38. Some scholars even argue that the Kaesong Industrial Complex is a front to fund Room 39. But since no one can enter the party, who really knows?
China’s Spy Museum Is As Insidious As The Spies It Displays
A museum should remain open to visitors, right? Well, one exhibit in Nanjing, China, is closed to all foreign visitors. Even if you travel overseas to see the Jiangsu National Security Education Museum, you won’t be let in unless you’re a Chinese citizen.
The museum’s director claims that the tools inside are “too sensitive for foreign eyes.” Some reporters who have toured the museum reported small pistols, concealed wiretaps, and hidden cameras. Would you feel comforted knowing that Chinese spies use these highly secretive technologies on a daily basis?
How Much Does The Bank Of England Hold?
Why does the Bank of England stand out from other banks across the world? Rumor has it that this bank contains over one-fifth of the world’s gold. That’s equal to 5,134 tons of gold ($248 billion) that nobody can lay eyes on.
The building is located on Threadneedle Street in London, England. Anyone who considers breaking in is out of luck. The walls are 8 ft thick, and it’s guarded both day and night by the Brigade of Guards. Citizens can walk through the front doors, but most of the building is off-limits to anyone beside staff.
Something Lies Beneath The Town of Dulce, New Mexico
In northern New Mexico, right next to the Colorado border, lies the small town of Dulce. Of its 2,600 inhabitants, most are Native Americans living regular lives. However, conspiracy theorists claim that a military base lies underneath the town.
Around 1979, a businessman named Paul Bennewitz claimed to have intercepted radio signals emanating from Dulce. He and UFOlogist John Lear both vouched for the existence of “grey aliens” in the underground base. Although many residents have reported UFO sightings, no one has discovered a path underground. Until someone does, the Dulce Base will remain an urban legend.
A Real Secret Base Hides Amidst Washington, D.C.
If you travel just 48 miles out from Washington, D.C. to the town of Berryville, Virginia, you’ll come across the scenic Mount Weather. Those who visit for the scenery may not know that a secret military base rests there. The Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center safeguards everything the government needs for national emergencies.
Some people have seen the upper buildings of the base, consisting of two buildings and a laboratory. But it’s “Area B,” the underground facility, that sparks the most interest. Of course, no one can approach the upper structure. Mount Weather is protected by razor wire, high chain-link fences, security cameras, and armed guards.
To Visit Pravčická Brána Is To Invite Death
Pravčická Brána is the largest natural sandstone arch in Europe. This 52-foot-tall arch stands proud in Bohemian Switzerland in the Czech Republic. Such a grand geological formation obviously attracts a lot of tourists–who can’t step near the arch.
Over time, the Pravčická Brána has eroded to a narrow bridge of 10 feet max. A similar landmark called Azure Window in Malta collapsed due to the same process. As a result, visitors haven’t been allowed near the Pravčická Brána since 1982. You can see it while it’s still standing if you don’t think about the Pravčická Brána falling on you.
Even The Indian Government Believes That Bhangarh Fort Is Haunted
Although you can tour the Bhangarh Fort during the day, you may not want to. This seventeenth-century fort in Rajasthan, India, was officially declared haunted by the Indian government. Officials forbid entry between sunset and sunrise. Those who have entered at night are said to have never returned.
According to legend, King Madho Singh built the fort. An ascetic named Guru Bala Nath used to meditate there, and he requested that the king never construct a building that cast a shadow on his meditation spot. The king failed to keep his promise, resulting in a curse.
This Street Was Buried Beneath Soho, London
If you’re standing on the traffic island of Charing Cross Road in London, you could peer down a metal grate and see tiled, Victorian street names. Those with a keen eye will read “Little Compton Street,” the street that was buried beneath London and lost forever.
In 1896, construction workers demolished Little Compton Street in order to pave Charing Cross Road. But instead of replacing Little Compton, they resigned it to utility tunnel beneath the new street. Today, you can catch a glimpse of Little Compton, and millions of pedestrians walk over it every year. But you can never visit the lost street.
Japan’s Most Sacred Shine Allows No One Inside
Ise Jingu, also called the Ise Grand Shrine, is Japan’s most sacred Shinto haven. This sacred building lies in the town of Uji-tachi, where the sun goddess Amaterasu is believed to dwell. Ise Jingu reportedly houses the Sacred Mirror, Shinto’s most holy vessel of truth and wisdom.
Only priests, high-ranking officials, and the Imperial family may step foot in Ise Jingu. On top of that, the temple is demolished and rebuilt every 20 years in honor of Shinto’s belief in death and rebirth. Even if you do see the temple, it won’t look the same in future decades.
Birdwatchers Can’t See 40% Of The World’s Birds
In between Tasmania and King Island, Australia, lies the famous Albatross Island. The island is a nature reserve for breeding penguins, gulls, oystercatchers, eagles, and of course, albatrosses. However, bird and nature enthusiasts can never go there. The ecosystem is so fragile that it is off-limits to tourists.
If it weren’t off-limits, Albatross Island would likely receive thousands of nature enthusiasts a year. After all, it houses 40% of the world’s population of bird species, including 10,000 albatrosses. Only conservationists, biologists, and certain photographers can step on the island.
Down Street Tube Conceals The Realities Of World War II
Down Street in Mayfair, London, used to house an underground subway. Since it was hardly ever used, the station closed down in 1932. Thirteen years later, Prime Minister Winston Churchill used the close railway as a bunker for his War Cabinet.
Down Street is now permanently closed to the public. Only engineers can leave and enter. In 2004, the horror movie Creep had its setting in Down Street. However, the crew weren’t allowed to enter the railway; they had to shoot in Aldwych Station instead. Officials say that it can be used in emergencies, but this occurrence has never happened.
Few Have Explored The Ghost Town Of Varosha, Cyprus
In 1974, Turkish troops invaded the tourist town of Varosha, Cyprus. Turkish Armed Forces did overtake the town, but all inhabitants fled during the invasion. For 45 years, the beautiful beach town of Varosha remains abandoned. Tourists are forbidden from entering.
In June of 2019, Turkish officials announced that they will soon reopen Varosha to tourists. The town that once housed stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Marilyn Monroe has now garnered a haunted reputation. Would you stay at a grand hotel that still houses the possessions of lost generations?
The Infected Island Of Monkeys Near South Carolina
Off the coast of South Carolina, Morgan Island has remained uninhabited due to its distance from the mainland. In 1979, people did sail to the island–to drop off infected monkeys. In Puerto Rico, rhesus monkeys began passing on the herpes B virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, South Carolina stepped in and offered to ship the monkeys to Morgan Island.
Today, over 4,000 rhesus monkeys live on Morgan Island. Due to the risk of contradicting herpes B, few people can visit the island. The only tourists are researchers from the National Institue of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
You Can’t View Most Of The Skulls In The Paris Catacombs
Most tourists who explore Paris decide to enter the famous catacombs. This tunnel of six million dead bodies dates back to the late eighteenth century. What few people understand, however, is that 99% of these tunnels are off-limits to the public. The entire tomb spans 170 miles as a pitch-black, bone-covered maze.
Even so, this hasn’t stopped urban explorers from breaking into the off-limits tunnels. Those who descend into the maze quickly understand how easy it is to get lost. In 2017, two teens were found in the catacombs after wandering for three days. And they were the lucky ones. If you visit the catacombs, stay in the designated areas.
Not Even American Citizens Can Observe The CIA Museum
Did you know that the CIA has a museum? Even if you did, it doesn’t matter, since you can’t tour the exhibits. The CIA Museum resides in Langley, Virginia, and only lets in employees of other museums and the presidential libraries. Otherwise, its 3,500 items sit beneath the lamplight unseen.
So what’s the point of a private museum? Officials claim that it both collects and preserves artifacts of the United States Intelligence Community. Photographers who have scoured the museum have captured weapons, equipment, clothing, and CIA memorabilia, including Osama bin Laden’s AK-47. Don’t expect open doors if you approach this museum.
Thousands Of People Still Live In Russia’s Radioactive Town
The town of Ozyorsk in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, wasn’t always named that. Until 1994, the area was called Chelyabinsk-65, code-named City 40. This is where Russian scientists designed their first nuclear weapon.
However, in 1957, the Mayak plant exploded, contaminating Ozyorsk with three times as much radioactive waste than Chernobyl. For that reason, Russia has closed off Ozyorsk to visitors. That doesn’t stop over 91,000 people from living there, though. Most residents have lifelong radioactive burdens and genetic deformities. If you want to avoid radioactive poisoning, don’t vacation in Ozyorsk.